Three long-established scientific principles raise the fundamental questions that inform our bold, new approach to discovering drugs that will activate regeneration of damaged tissues and organs:
1. Certain human tissues and organs — like blood, skin and gut cells, skeletal muscle, and the liver — regenerate naturally when damaged.
Can drugs unlock these innate, regenerative abilities in other critical organs and tissues — like the heart, the spinal cord…even the brain?
2. Organs like the heart regenerate naturally when damaged in young mammals including human infants. But we lose these regenerative abilities as we age.
Can drugs reactivate innate regenerative abilities that adults lose during aging?
3. Humans share the same, fundamental genetic machinery that enables countless other animals to fully regrow critical tissues, organs, and body parts. Salamanders, for example, regenerate entire limbs after amputation. Zebrafish regenerate hearts, spinal cords, kidneys, pancreases, and appendages after damage.
Can drugs reset our genetic machinery to trigger regeneration, like animals with inherent regenerative abilities?
By studying animals with powerful regenerative capabilities — and with whom we share most of our genes — our scientists are identifying regenerative medicine drug targets. And by using the zebrafish, an inexpensive aquarium fish, as a drug-screening platform, we are rapidly identifying new lead drug candidates for regenerative medicine.